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John M. Ford

John M. Ford

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John Milo "Mike" Ford (April 10, 1957 – September 25, 2006) was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 and fantasy
Fantasy
Fantasy is a genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plot, theme, or setting. Many works within the genre take place in imaginary worlds where magic is common...

 writer, game designer, and poet
Poet
A poet is a person who writes poetry. A poet's work can be literal, meaning that his work is derived from a specific event, or metaphorical, meaning that his work can take on many meanings and forms. Poets have existed since antiquity, in nearly all languages, and have produced works that vary...

.

Ford was regarded (and obituaries, tributes and memories describe him) as an extraordinarily intelligent, erudite and witty man. He was a popular contributor to several online discussion
Online discussion
Online discussion is a relatively new form of communication, facilitated usually by computer networks. The first such communications were on mainframe-based systems such as the PLATO and CONFER systems in the early to mid 1970s. By the mid 1980's, dial-up bulletin board systems or "BBS's" run by...

s. He composed poems, often improvised, in both complicated forms and blank verse
Blank verse
Blank verse is poetry written in unrhymed iambic pentameter. It has been described as "probably the most common and influential form that English poetry has taken since the sixteenth century" and Paul Fussell has claimed that "about three-quarters of all English poetry is in blank verse."The first...

, notably Shakespearean pastiche
Pastiche
A pastiche is a literary or other artistic genre or technique that is a "hodge-podge" or imitation. The word is also a linguistic term used to describe an early stage in the development of a pidgin language.-Hodge-podge:...

; he also wrote pastiches and parodies
Parody
A parody , in current usage, is an imitative work created to mock, comment on, or trivialise an original work, its subject, author, style, or some other target, by means of humorous, satiric or ironic imitation...

 of many other authors and styles. At Minicon
Minicon
Minicon is a science fiction and fantasy convention in Minneapolis usually held on Easter weekend. Started in 1968 and running approximately annually since then, it is one of the oldest science fiction conventions in the midwest United States...

 and other science fiction convention
Science fiction convention
Science fiction conventions are gatherings of fans of various forms of speculative fiction including science fiction and fantasy. Historically, science fiction conventions had focused primarily on literature, but the purview of many extends to such other avenues of expression as movies and...

s he would perform "Ask Dr. Mike", giving humorous answers to scientific and other questions in a lab coat before a whiteboard.

Life


Ford was born in East Chicago, Indiana
East Chicago, Indiana
East Chicago is a city in Lake County, Indiana. The population was 29,698 at the 2010 census.-Geography:East Chicago is located at ....

, and raised in Whiting, Indiana
Whiting, Indiana
Whiting is a city located in the Chicago Metropolitan Area in Lake County, Indiana, which was founded in 1889. The city is located on the southern shore of Lake Michigan. It is roughly 16 miles from the Chicago Loop and just short of two miles from Chicago's South Side. Whiting is home to Whiting...

. In the mid-1970s he attended Indiana University Bloomington
Indiana University Bloomington
Indiana University Bloomington is a public research university located in Bloomington, Indiana, in the United States. IU Bloomington is the flagship campus of the Indiana University system. Being the flagship campus, IU Bloomington is often referred to simply as IU or Indiana...

, where he was active in the IU science fiction club and Society for Creative Anachronism
Society for Creative Anachronism
The Society for Creative Anachronism is an international living history group with the aim of studying and recreating mainly Medieval European cultures and their histories before the 17th century...

 (using the name Miles Atherton de Grey); while there, he published his first short story
Short story
A short story is a work of fiction that is usually written in prose, often in narrative format. This format tends to be more pointed than longer works of fiction, such as novellas and novels. Short story definitions based on length differ somewhat, even among professional writers, in part because...

 "This, Too, We Reconcile" in the May 1976 Analog
Analog Science Fiction and Fact
Analog Science Fiction and Fact is an American science fiction magazine. As of 2011, it is the longest running continuously published magazine of that genre...

.

Ford left IU and moved to New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 to work on the newly-founded Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, where, starting in mid-1978, he published poetry, fiction, articles, and game reviews. Although his last non-fiction appeared there in September 1981, he was tenth most frequent contributor for the 1977–2002 period. About 1990, he moved to Minneapolis. In addition to writing, he worked at various times as a hospital orderly, computer consultant, slush pile
Slush pile
In publishing, the slush pile is the set of unsolicited query letters or manuscripts sent either directly to the publisher or literary agent by authors, or to the publisher by an agent not known to the publisher....

 reader, and copy editor
Copy editing
Copy editing is the work that an editor does to improve the formatting, style, and accuracy of text. Unlike general editing, copy editing might not involve changing the substance of the text. Copy refers to written or typewritten text for typesetting, printing, or publication...

.

Ford suffered from complications related to diabetes since childhood and also had renal
Kidney
The kidneys, organs with several functions, serve essential regulatory roles in most animals, including vertebrates and some invertebrates. They are essential in the urinary system and also serve homeostatic functions such as the regulation of electrolytes, maintenance of acid–base balance, and...

 dysfunction which required dialysis
Dialysis
In medicine, dialysis is a process for removing waste and excess water from the blood, and is primarily used to provide an artificial replacement for lost kidney function in people with renal failure...

 and, in 2000, a kidney transplant, which improved his quality of life considerably. He was found dead from natural causes in his Minneapolis home on September 25, 2006 by his partner since the mid-1990s, Elise Matthesen
Elise Matthesen
Elise Matthesen is an American essayist, journalist, poet, and fiction writer , and a crafter of art jewelry...

. He was a prominent member of the Friends of the Minneapolis Public Library
Minneapolis Public Library
The Minneapolis Public Library and Information Center was a library system serving the residents of Minneapolis, Minnesota in the United States. It was founded as the publicly traded Minneapolis Athenæum in 1860 and became a free public library in 1885 founded by T. B. Walker...

, which established a John M. Ford Book Endowment after his death with the donations to be used as interest
Interest
Interest is a fee paid by a borrower of assets to the owner as a form of compensation for the use of the assets. It is most commonly the price paid for the use of borrowed money, or money earned by deposited funds....

-generating capital for yearly purchase of new books.

Work


Though Ford's novels varied in setting and style, several were of the Bildungsroman
Bildungsroman
In literary criticism, bildungsroman or coming-of-age story is a literary genre which focuses on the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood , and in which character change is thus extremely important...

 (coming-of-age) type: in Web of Angels, The Final Reflection
The Final Reflection
The Final Reflection is a 1984 Star Trek tie-in novel by John M. Ford which emphasizes developments of Klingon language and culture. The novel provided the foundation for the FASA Star Trek role-playing game sourcebooks dealing with the Klingon elements of the game...

, Princes of the Air, Growing Up Weightless, and The Last Hot Time, Ford wrote variations on the theme of growing up, learning about one's world and one's place in it, and taking responsibility for it — which involves taking on the power and wisdom to influence events, to help make the world a better place.

Otherwise, Ford's works are characterized by an aversion to doing things that have been done before. This is perhaps most notable in his two Star Trek
Star Trek
Star Trek is an American science fiction entertainment franchise created by Gene Roddenberry. The core of Star Trek is its six television series: The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise...

 novels, The Final Reflection
The Final Reflection
The Final Reflection is a 1984 Star Trek tie-in novel by John M. Ford which emphasizes developments of Klingon language and culture. The novel provided the foundation for the FASA Star Trek role-playing game sourcebooks dealing with the Klingon elements of the game...

(1984) and How Much for Just the Planet?
How Much for Just the Planet?
How Much for Just the Planet? is a 1987 Star Trek tie-in novel by John M. Ford.-Plot:In the novel, large deposits of dilithium are detected on a colony planet, and delegations are sent by the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire to negotiate for mining rights How Much for Just the...

(1987). The Final Reflection is the story of a small group of Klingon
Klingon
Klingons are a fictional warrior race in the Star Trek universe.Klingons are recurring villains in the 1960s television show Star Trek: The Original Series, and have appeared in all five spin-off series and eight feature films...

s who prevent a war between the Klingon Empire and the Federation
United Federation of Planets
The United Federation of Planets, also known as "The Federation" is a fictional interplanetary federal republic depicted in the Star Trek television series and motion pictures...

 while the regular series characters are relegated to cameo appearances. (This novel introduced the fictional language
Fictional language
Fictional languages are by far the largest group of artistic languages. Fictional languages are intended to be the languages of a fictional world and are often designed with the intent of giving more depth and an appearance of plausibility to the fictional worlds with which they are associated, and...

 Klingonaase.) In the comedic How Much for Just the Planet?
How Much for Just the Planet?
How Much for Just the Planet? is a 1987 Star Trek tie-in novel by John M. Ford.-Plot:In the novel, large deposits of dilithium are detected on a colony planet, and delegations are sent by the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire to negotiate for mining rights How Much for Just the...

, the Enterprise crew compete with a Klingon crew for control of a planet, whose colonists are not happy with this and defend their peace in inventive ways, which soon make everything a farce
Farce
In theatre, a farce is a comedy which aims at entertaining the audience by means of unlikely, extravagant, and improbable situations, disguise and mistaken identity, verbal humour of varying degrees of sophistication, which may include word play, and a fast-paced plot whose speed usually increases,...

, including a Vaudevillian
Vaudeville
Vaudeville was a theatrical genre of variety entertainment in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s. Each performance was made up of a series of separate, unrelated acts grouped together on a common bill...

 pie fight. The book includes song lyrics
Lyrics
Lyrics are a set of words that make up a song. The writer of lyrics is a lyricist or lyrist. The meaning of lyrics can either be explicit or implicit. Some lyrics are abstract, almost unintelligible, and, in such cases, their explication emphasizes form, articulation, meter, and symmetry of...

 that satirize many 20th century stage musicals. Both novels present the Klingons in a more positive light, not just as the token evil menace of the week,It has been suggested that Ford's sympathetic portrayal of Klingon culture influenced the later canonical TV and movie depictions of honor-driven Klingons (such as Worf
Worf
Worf, played by Michael Dorn, is a main character in Star Trek: The Next Generation and in seasons four to seven of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He also appears in the films based on The Next Generation. Worf is the first Klingon main character to appear in Star Trek, and has appeared in more Star...

); certainly it influenced many Klingon fans. See The Final Reflection – Influence of the book and Burns's article linked below.
while giving strong hints that the United Federation of Planets
United Federation of Planets
The United Federation of Planets, also known as "The Federation" is a fictional interplanetary federal republic depicted in the Star Trek television series and motion pictures...

 is not quite the shining utopia
Utopia
Utopia is an ideal community or society possessing a perfect socio-politico-legal system. The word was imported from Greek by Sir Thomas More for his 1516 book Utopia, describing a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean. The term has been used to describe both intentional communities that attempt...

 of goodwill and interspecies fellowship generally depicted in the television series.

Ford avoided repetition not only of the work of others, but also of his own work. Where many writers make a name for themselves by developing a known style that repeats in many books, Ford always surprised with his ability to use a variety of styles that best suited the world, characters, and situations he had chosen to write about. (John Clute
John Clute
John Frederick Clute is a Canadian born author and critic who has lived in Britain since 1969. He has been described as "an integral part of science fiction's history."...

 expressed this in 1993 The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction
The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction
The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction is an English language reference work on science fiction.- Publication history :The first edition, edited by Peter Nicholls with John Clute and Brian Stableford appeared in 1979, published by Granada. It was retitled The Science Fiction Encyclopedia in the US...

as "Two decades into his career, there remains some sense that JMF remains unwilling or unable to create a definitive style or mode; but his originality is evident, a shifting feisty energy informs almost everything he writes, and that career is still young.") This might have limited his readership, however he was much respected by his fellow writers, editors, critics and fans. Robert Jordan
Robert Jordan
Robert Jordan was the pen name of James Oliver Rigney, Jr. , under which he was best known as the author of the bestselling The Wheel of Time fantasy series. He also wrote under the pseudonyms Reagan O'Neal and Jackson O'Reilly.-Biography:Jordan was born in Charleston, South Carolina...

, Ford's life-long close friend, called Ford "the best writer in America — bar none." Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman
Neil Richard Gaiman born 10 November 1960)is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre and films. His notable works include the comic book series The Sandman and novels Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book...

 called Ford "my best critic … the best writer I knew." Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Patrick James Nielsen Hayden , is an American science fiction editor, fan, fanzine publisher, essayist, reviewer, anthologist, teacher and blogger. He is a World Fantasy Award and Hugo Award winner , and is an editor and the Manager of Science Fiction at Tor Books...

 said "Most normal people had the slight sense that something large and super-intelligent and trans-human had sort of flown over ... There would be a point where basically the plot would become so knotted and complex he would lose all of us."

Books

  • Web of Angels (1980, Pocket Books
    Pocket Books
    Pocket Books is a division of Simon & Schuster that primarily publishes paperback books.- History :Pocket produced the first mass-market, pocket-sized paperback books in America in early 1939 and revolutionized the publishing industry...

    , ISBN 0-671-82947-5; 1992, Tor Books
    Tor Books
    Tor Books is one of two imprints of Tom Doherty Associates LLC, based in New York City. It is noted for its science fiction and fantasy titles. Tom Doherty Associates also publishes mainstream fiction, mystery, and occasional military history titles under its Forge imprint. The company was founded...

    , ISBN 0-8125-0959-5), an early exploration of some topics that would later be described as cyberpunk
    Cyberpunk
    Cyberpunk is a postmodern and science fiction genre noted for its focus on "high tech and low life." The name is a portmanteau of cybernetics and punk, and was originally coined by Bruce Bethke as the title of his short story "Cyberpunk," published in 1983...

  • The Princes of the Air (1982, Pocket Books, ISBN 0-671-44482-4; 1991, Tor Books, ISBN 0-8125-0958-7), a space opera
    Space opera
    Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes romantic, often melodramatic adventure, set mainly or entirely in outer space, generally involving conflict between opponents possessing advanced technologies and abilities. The term has no relation to music and it is analogous to "soap...

  • The Dragon Waiting
    The Dragon Waiting
    The Dragon Waiting: A Masque of History is a fantasy novel by John M. Ford, published in 1983. It won the 1984 World Fantasy Award.-Plot summary:...

    (1983, Timescape Books
    Timescape Books
    Timescape Books was a science fiction line from Pocket Books operating from 1981 to 1985. Pocket Books is an imprint of Simon and SchusterIt was named after the Gregory Benford novel Timescape, which was not published by the Timescape imprint. The imprint was founded by David G. Hartwell. It...

    , ISBN 0-671-47552-5; 1985, Avon Books, ISBN 0-380-69887-0; 2002, Gollancz
    Victor Gollancz Ltd
    Victor Gollancz Ltd was a major British book publishing house of the twentieth century. It was founded in 1927 by Victor Gollancz and specialised in the publication of high quality literature, nonfiction and popular fiction, including science fiction. Upon Gollancz's death in 1967, ownership...

    , ISBN 0-575-07378-0), a fantasy alternate history combining vampire
    Vampire
    Vampires are mythological or folkloric beings who subsist by feeding on the life essence of living creatures, regardless of whether they are undead or a living person...

    s, the Medici
    Medici
    The House of Medici or Famiglia de' Medici was a political dynasty, banking family and later royal house that first began to gather prominence under Cosimo de' Medici in the Republic of Florence during the late 14th century. The family originated in the Mugello region of the Tuscan countryside,...

    s, and the convoluted English politics surrounding Edward IV
    Edward IV of England
    Edward IV was King of England from 4 March 1461 until 3 October 1470, and again from 11 April 1471 until his death. He was the first Yorkist King of England...

     and Richard III
    Richard III of England
    Richard III was King of England for two years, from 1483 until his death in 1485 during the Battle of Bosworth Field. He was the last king of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty...

    ; winner of the 1984 World Fantasy Award
  • The Final Reflection
    The Final Reflection
    The Final Reflection is a 1984 Star Trek tie-in novel by John M. Ford which emphasizes developments of Klingon language and culture. The novel provided the foundation for the FASA Star Trek role-playing game sourcebooks dealing with the Klingon elements of the game...

    (1984, Pocket Books, ISBN 0-671-47388-3; 1985, Ultramarine, ISBN 0-318-37547-8; 1985, Gregg Press, ISBN 0-8398-2885-3; 1991, Pocket Books, ISBN 0-671-74354-6, a Star Trek
    Star Trek
    Star Trek is an American science fiction entertainment franchise created by Gene Roddenberry. The core of Star Trek is its six television series: The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise...

     tie-in novel; (also 2004, Pocket Books, ISBN 0-7434-9659-0 [in omnibus Signature Edition, The Hand of Kahless])
  • How Much for Just the Planet?
    How Much for Just the Planet?
    How Much for Just the Planet? is a 1987 Star Trek tie-in novel by John M. Ford.-Plot:In the novel, large deposits of dilithium are detected on a colony planet, and delegations are sent by the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire to negotiate for mining rights How Much for Just the...

    (1987, Pocket Books, ISBN 0-671-62998-0; 1990, ISBN 0-671-72214-X; 1991, ISBN 0-671-03859-1), a Star Trek tie-in novel
  • The Scholars of Night (1988, Tor Books, ISBN 0-312-93051-8; 1989, ISBN 0-8125-0214-0), a high tech
    High tech
    High tech is technology that is at the cutting edge: the most advanced technology currently available. It is often used in reference to micro-electronics, rather than other technologies. The adjective form is hyphenated: high-tech or high-technology...

     Cold War
    Cold War
    The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

     thriller involving an undiscovered Christopher Marlowe
    Christopher Marlowe
    Christopher Marlowe was an English dramatist, poet and translator of the Elizabethan era. As the foremost Elizabethan tragedian, next to William Shakespeare, he is known for his blank verse, his overreaching protagonists, and his mysterious death.A warrant was issued for Marlowe's arrest on 18 May...

     play
  • Casting Fortune (1989, Tor Books, ISBN 0-8125-3815-3), a collection of stories set in the Liavek
    Liavek
    Liavek is a shared world brought to life in a series of five fantasy anthologies edited by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly.-Contributors:Contributors include Bull, Shetterly, Gene Wolfe, Jane Yolen, John M. Ford, Kara Dalkey, Barry B. Longyear, Megan Lindholm, Nancy Kress, Patricia C. Wrede, Steven...

     shared world, reprints "A Cup of Worrynot Tea" and "Green Is the Color" and original story "The Illusionist"
  • Fugue State (1990, Tor Books, ISBN 0-8125-0813-0), a longer version of the novella of the same name, published as Tor SF Double
    Tor Double Novels
    Tor Doubles are a series of science fiction books published by Tor Books between 1988 and 1991, mostly in tête-bêche format. The series was inspired by the Ace Doubles, published between 1952 and 1973.- Titles in the series :...

     No. 25 with The Death of Doctor Island by Gene Wolfe
    Gene Wolfe
    Gene Wolfe is an American science fiction and fantasy writer. He is noted for his dense, allusive prose as well as the strong influence of his Catholic faith, to which he converted after marrying into the religion. He is a prolific short story writer and a novelist, and has won many awards in the...

  • Growing Up Weightless (1993, Bantam Spectra
    Bantam Spectra
    Bantam Spectra is the science-fiction division of Bantam Books, which is owned by Random House.According to their website, Spectra publishes "science-fiction, fantasy, horror, and speculative novels from recognizable authors" Spectra authors have collectively won 31 such awards in the fields of...

    , ISBN 0-553-37306-4; 1994, ISBN 0-553-56814-0), a Bildungsroman
    Bildungsroman
    In literary criticism, bildungsroman or coming-of-age story is a literary genre which focuses on the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood , and in which character change is thus extremely important...

     set on a human-colonized Moon
    Moon
    The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

    ; joint winner of the 1993 Philip K. Dick Award
  • Timesteps (1993, Rune Press), a selection of poems
  • From the End of the Twentieth Century (1997, NESFA Press
    NESFA Press
    NESFA Press is the publishing arm of the New England Science Fiction Association, Inc. The NESFA Press primarily produces three types of books:...

    , ISBN 0-915368-74-9, ISBN 0-915368-73-0), a collection of short stories, poetry, and essays
  • The Last Hot Time (2000, Tor Books, ISBN 0-312-85545-1; 2001 paperback, ISBN 0-312-87578-9), urban fantasy
    Urban fantasy
    Urban fantasy is a sub-genre of fantasy defined by place; the fantastic narrative has an urban setting. Many urban fantasies are set in contemporary times and contain supernatural elements. However, the stories can take place in historical, modern, or futuristic periods...

     set in a magical Chicago, Illinois
  • Heat of Fusion and Other Stories (2004, Tor Books, ISBN 0-312-85546-X), a collection of short stories and poetry, finalist for the World Fantasy Award in 2005


With Darrell Schweitzer
Darrell Schweitzer
Darrell Charles Schweitzer is an American writer, editor, and essayist in the field of speculative fiction. Much of his focus has been on dark fantasy and horror, although he does also work in science fiction and fantasy...

 and George H. Scithers
George H. Scithers
George H. Scithers was a science fiction fan, author, and Hugo Award winning editor.A long-time member of the World Science Fiction Society, he published a fanzine starting in the '50s, wrote short stories, and moved on to edit several prominent science fiction magazines, as well as a number of...

, Ford co-authored On Writing Science Fiction (The Editors Strike Back!) (1981, Owlswick Press, ISBN 0-913896-19-5; Wildside Press
Wildside Press
Wildside Press is an independent publishing company located in Maryland, USA. It was founded in 1989 by John Gregory and Kim Betancourt. While the press was originally conceived as a publisher of speculative fiction in both trade and limited editions, it has broadened out somewhat since then, both...

 2000, ISBN 1-880448-78-5), a writers' manual with advice illustrated by short stories that were first sales to IASFM.

Some shorter works

  • "A Cup of Worrynot Tea" in Liavek: The Players of Luck (1986, edited by Emma Bull
    Emma Bull
    Emma Bull is a science fiction and fantasy author whose best-known novel is War for the Oaks, one of the pioneering works of urban fantasy. She has participated in Terri Windling's Borderland shared universe, which is the setting of her 1994 novel Finder...

     and Will Shetterly
    Will Shetterly
    Will Shetterly is an American writer of fantasy and science fiction best known for his novel Dogland . The novel is inspired by his childhood at the tourist attraction Dog Land owned by his parents...

    )
  • "Green Is the Color", "Eel Island Shoals" (song), "Pot-Boil Blues" (song) in Liavek: Wizard's Row (1987, edited by Emma Bull
    Emma Bull
    Emma Bull is a science fiction and fantasy author whose best-known novel is War for the Oaks, one of the pioneering works of urban fantasy. She has participated in Terri Windling's Borderland shared universe, which is the setting of her 1994 novel Finder...

     and Will Shetterly
    Will Shetterly
    Will Shetterly is an American writer of fantasy and science fiction best known for his novel Dogland . The novel is inspired by his childhood at the tourist attraction Dog Land owned by his parents...

    )
  • "Riding the Hammer" in Liavek: Spells of Binding (1988, edited by Emma Bull
    Emma Bull
    Emma Bull is a science fiction and fantasy author whose best-known novel is War for the Oaks, one of the pioneering works of urban fantasy. She has participated in Terri Windling's Borderland shared universe, which is the setting of her 1994 novel Finder...

     and Will Shetterly
    Will Shetterly
    Will Shetterly is an American writer of fantasy and science fiction best known for his novel Dogland . The novel is inspired by his childhood at the tourist attraction Dog Land owned by his parents...

    )
  • "The Grand Festival: Sestina" (poem), "Divination Day: Invocation" (poem), "Birth Day: Sonnet" (poem), "Procession Day/Remembrance Night: Processional/Recessional" (poem), "Bazaar Day: Ballad" (poem), "Festival Day: Catechism" (poem), "Restoration Day: Plainsong" in Liavek: Festival Week (1990, edited by Emma Bull
    Emma Bull
    Emma Bull is a science fiction and fantasy author whose best-known novel is War for the Oaks, one of the pioneering works of urban fantasy. She has participated in Terri Windling's Borderland shared universe, which is the setting of her 1994 novel Finder...

     and Will Shetterly
    Will Shetterly
    Will Shetterly is an American writer of fantasy and science fiction best known for his novel Dogland . The novel is inspired by his childhood at the tourist attraction Dog Land owned by his parents...

    )
  • "Scrabble with God", IASFM October 1985, reprinted in From the End of the Twentieth Century


Ford published a variety of short fiction and poetry, from short short stories that are essentially fantastic jokes, to novella
Novella
A novella is a written, fictional, prose narrative usually longer than a novelette but shorter than a novel. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Nebula Awards for science fiction define the novella as having a word count between 17,500 and 40,000...

s revealing a deep understanding of human frailties and emotions. His poem "Winter Solstice, Camelot Station" won the World Fantasy Award
World Fantasy Award
The World Fantasy Awards are annual, international awards given to authors and artists who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in the field of fantasy...

 for Short Fiction
World Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction
This World Fantasy Award is given to the fantasy short story voted best by a panel of judges, and presented each year at the World Fantasy Convention....

 in 1989.

Ford published some children's fiction under pseudonym
Pseudonym
A pseudonym is a name that a person assumes for a particular purpose and that differs from his or her original orthonym...

s that he did not make public, and two children's gamebook
Gamebook
A gamebook is a work of fiction that allows the reader to participate in the story by making effective choices. The narrative branches along various paths through the use of numbered paragraphs or pages...

s under house names Michael J. Dodge (Star Trek: Voyage to Adventure, 1984) and Milo Dennison (The Case of the Gentleman Ghost, 1985).

Ford plotted three issues of Captain Confederacy
Captain Confederacy
Captain Confederacy is an alternate history comic book by Will Shetterly and Vince Stone that was published between 1986 and 1992. It tells the story of a superhero created for propaganda purposes in a world in which the Confederate States of America won their independence.-Publication history:John M...

alternate history comics
Comics
Comics denotes a hybrid medium having verbal side of its vocabulary tightly tied to its visual side in order to convey narrative or information only, the latter in case of non-fiction comics, seeking synergy by using both visual and verbal side in...

 in the late 1980s and wrote issue number 10, "Driving North."

Ford also contributed to The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time
The Wheel of Time
The Wheel of Time is a series of epic fantasy novels written by American author James Oliver Rigney, Jr., under the pen name Robert Jordan. Originally planned as a six-book series, the length was increased by increments; at the time of Rigney's death, he expected it to be 12, but it will actually...

(2001, Tor Books, ISBN 0-312-86936-3), drawing some of the maps.

Games

  • The Yellow Clearance Black Box Blues (1985, West End Games, ISBN 0-87431-027-X), an adventure for the Paranoia
    Paranoia (role-playing game)
    Paranoia is a dystopian science-fiction tabletop role-playing game originally designed and written by Greg Costikyan, Dan Gelber, and Eric Goldberg, and first published in 1984 by West End Games. Since 2004 the game has been published under licence by Mongoose Publishing...

     roleplaying game
  • Star Trek III with Greg Costikyan
    Greg Costikyan
    Greg Costikyan, sometimes known under the pseudonym "Designer X" , is an American game designer and science fiction writer.Costikyan's career spans nearly all extant genres of gaming, including hex-based wargames, role-playing games, boardgames, card games, computer games, online games and mobile...

     and Doug Kaufman (1985, West End Games)
  • GURPS Time Travel with Steve Jackson
    Steve Jackson (US)
    Steve Jackson is an American game designer. After working for many years at Metagaming Concepts designing such games as Ogre and The Fantasy Trip, he left to found Steve Jackson Games in the early 1980s...

     (1991, Steve Jackson Games
    Steve Jackson Games
    Steve Jackson Games is a game company, founded in 1980 by Steve Jackson, that creates and publishes role-playing, board, and card games, and the gaming magazine Pyramid.-History:...

    , ISBN 1-55634-115-6), a resource book for the GURPS
    GURPS
    The Generic Universal RolePlaying System, or GURPS, is a tabletop role-playing game system designed to allow for play in any game setting...

     roleplaying game
  • GURPS Y2K with Steve Jackson et al. (1999, Steve Jackson Games, ISBN 1-55634-406-6), a resource book for the GURPS roleplaying game
  • GURPS Traveller: Starports (2000, Steve Jackson Games, ISBN 1-55634-401-5), a resource book for the GURPS Traveller
    Traveller (role-playing game)
    Traveller is a series of related science fiction role-playing games, the first published in 1977 by Game Designers' Workshop and subsequent editions by various companies remaining in print to this day. The game was inspired from such classic science fiction stories as the Dumarest saga series by...

     roleplaying game
  • GURPS Infinite Worlds with Steve Jackson and Kenneth Hite
    Kenneth Hite
    Kenneth Hite is a writer and role-playing game designer. He holds an M.A. in International Relations from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor's degree in Cartography from East Central University. He has been writing games since 1981 and full-time since 1995...

     (2005, Steve Jackson Games, ISBN 1-55634-734-0), a resource book for the GURPS roleplaying game


Ford further wrote Klingon manuals for the Star Trek role-playing game
Star Trek role-playing game (FASA)
Star Trek: The Role Playing Game is a role-playing game set in the fictional Star Trek universe published and edited by FASA Corporation from 1982 to 1989.-Setting:...

, and a number of RPG
Role-playing game
A role-playing game is a game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles within a narrative, either through literal acting, or through a process of structured decision-making or character development...

 articles, which appeared in Autoduel Quarterly, Pyramid
Pyramid (magazine)
Pyramid is a gaming magazine, publishing articles primarily on role-playing games, but including board games, card games, and other sorts of games. It began life in 1993 as a print publication of Steve Jackson Games for its first 30 issues, though it has been published on the Internet since March...

, Roleplayer, Space Gamer, and Journal of the Travellers' Aid Society.

In The Final Reflection
The Final Reflection
The Final Reflection is a 1984 Star Trek tie-in novel by John M. Ford which emphasizes developments of Klingon language and culture. The novel provided the foundation for the FASA Star Trek role-playing game sourcebooks dealing with the Klingon elements of the game...

he described a chess-like game played by Klingons, klin zha, which has been adopted by Klingon fandom.

Awards

  • 2005 Origins Award
    Origins Award
    The Origins Awards are American awards for outstanding work in the game industry. They are presented by the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design at the Origins Game Fair on an annual basis for the previous year, so the 1979 awards were given at the 1980 Origins.The Origins Award is commonly...

     for Role-Playing Game Supplement of the Year – GURPS Infinite Worlds
    GURPS Infinite Worlds
    GURPS Infinite Worlds is a supplement for the Fourth Edition of the GURPS role-playing game, published by Steve Jackson Games in 2005 and written by Kenneth Hite, Steve Jackson, and John M. Ford...

     4th Edition
  • 1998 Minnesota Book Award for Fantasy & Science Fiction – From the End of the Twentieth Century
  • 1993 Philip K. Dick Award – Growing Up Weightless
  • 1991 Origins Award
    Origins Award
    The Origins Awards are American awards for outstanding work in the game industry. They are presented by the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design at the Origins Game Fair on an annual basis for the previous year, so the 1979 awards were given at the 1980 Origins.The Origins Award is commonly...

     for Best Roleplaying Supplement – GURPS Time Travel
  • 1989 World Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction
    World Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction
    This World Fantasy Award is given to the fantasy short story voted best by a panel of judges, and presented each year at the World Fantasy Convention....

     – "Winter Solstice, Camelot Station" (in Invitation to Camelot, edited by Parke Godwin)
  • 1989 Rhysling Award for Long Poem – also "Winter Solstice, Camelot Station"
  • 1985 Origins Award
    Origins Award
    The Origins Awards are American awards for outstanding work in the game industry. They are presented by the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design at the Origins Game Fair on an annual basis for the previous year, so the 1979 awards were given at the 1980 Origins.The Origins Award is commonly...

     for Best Roleplaying Supplement – The Yellow Clearance Black Box Blues
  • 1984 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel
    World Fantasy Award for Best Novel
    This World Fantasy Award is given to the fantasy novel or novels voted best by a panel of judges, and presented each year at the World Fantasy Convention.-1975:...

     – The Dragon Waiting

Nominations

  • 2005 World Fantasy Award for Best Collection
    World Fantasy Award for Best Collection
    This World Fantasy Award is given to the fantasy fiction collection voted best by a panel of judges, and presented each year at the World Fantasy Convention.-2010:...

     – Heat of Fusion and Other Stories
  • 1996 Nebula Award for Best Novelette
    Nebula Award for Best Novelette
    Winners of the Nebula Award for best Novelette. The stated year is that of publication; awards are given in the following year. Winning titles are listed first, with other nominees listed below.-External links:* * *...

     – "Erase/Record/Play" (in Starlight 1, edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden
    Patrick Nielsen Hayden
    Patrick James Nielsen Hayden , is an American science fiction editor, fan, fanzine publisher, essayist, reviewer, anthologist, teacher and blogger. He is a World Fantasy Award and Hugo Award winner , and is an editor and the Manager of Science Fiction at Tor Books...

    )
  • 1996 Theodore Sturgeon Award
    Theodore Sturgeon Award
    The Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award is given each year for the best science fiction short story of the year and is the short fiction counterpart of the Campbell award , published in English....

     – also "Erase/Record/Play"
  • 1995 Rhysling Award for Long Poems – "Troy: The Movie" (in Weird Tales
    Weird Tales
    Weird Tales is an American fantasy and horror fiction pulp magazine first published in March 1923. It ceased its original run in September 1954, after 279 issues, but has since been revived. The magazine was set up in Chicago by J. C. Henneberger, an ex-journalist with a taste for the macabre....

    , Spring 1994)
  • 1991 Rhysling Award for Long Poems – "Bazaar Day: Ballad" (in Liavek: Festival Week, edited by Will Shetterly
    Will Shetterly
    Will Shetterly is an American writer of fantasy and science fiction best known for his novel Dogland . The novel is inspired by his childhood at the tourist attraction Dog Land owned by his parents...

     and Emma Bull
    Emma Bull
    Emma Bull is a science fiction and fantasy author whose best-known novel is War for the Oaks, one of the pioneering works of urban fantasy. She has participated in Terri Windling's Borderland shared universe, which is the setting of her 1994 novel Finder...

    ) and "Cosmology: A User’s Manual" (in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, January 1990)
  • 1990 Rhysling Award for Long Poems – "A Holiday in the Park" (in Weird Tales
    Weird Tales
    Weird Tales is an American fantasy and horror fiction pulp magazine first published in March 1923. It ceased its original run in September 1954, after 279 issues, but has since been revived. The magazine was set up in Chicago by J. C. Henneberger, an ex-journalist with a taste for the macabre....

    , Winter 1988/1989)
  • 1987 Nebula Award for Best Novelette (final ballot) – "Fugue State" (in Under the Wheel, edited by Elizabeth Mitchell)

External links



Texts by Ford online

  • Mike Ford: Occasional Works – Part One to Twelve and Coda: selection of Ford's comments to Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden
    Teresa Nielsen Hayden
    Teresa Nielsen Hayden is an American science fiction editor, fanzine writer, essayist, and teacher. She is a consulting editor for Tor Books. She has also worked for Federated Media Publishing, where in 2007 she revived the comment section for the blog Boing Boing...

    's weblog Making Light, with links to context
  • 110 Stories, poem written about the September 11, 2001 attacks
    September 11, 2001 attacks
    The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks (also referred to as September 11, September 11th or 9/119/11 is pronounced "nine eleven". The slash is not part of the pronunciation...

  • Troy: The Movie, 1994 poem
  • Winter Solstice, Camelot Station, 1989 poem
  • "As Above, So Below", short story (in Dragons of Light, ed. Orson Scott Card
    Orson Scott Card
    Orson Scott Card is an American author, critic, public speaker, essayist, columnist, and political activist. He writes in several genres, but is primarily known for his science fiction. His novel Ender's Game and its sequel Speaker for the Dead both won Hugo and Nebula Awards, making Card the...

    , Ace Books, 1980)
  • "Driving North", short story written as the script for issue 10 of Captain Confederacy
    Captain Confederacy
    Captain Confederacy is an alternate history comic book by Will Shetterly and Vince Stone that was published between 1986 and 1992. It tells the story of a superhero created for propaganda purposes in a world in which the Confederate States of America won their independence.-Publication history:John M...

  • Strange Horizons
    Strange Horizons
    Strange Horizons is an online speculative fiction magazine. It also features speculative poetry in every issue....

    2002 interview with Ford
  • Patrick Nielsen Hayden
    Patrick Nielsen Hayden
    Patrick James Nielsen Hayden , is an American science fiction editor, fan, fanzine publisher, essayist, reviewer, anthologist, teacher and blogger. He is a World Fantasy Award and Hugo Award winner , and is an editor and the Manager of Science Fiction at Tor Books...

    's 2001 online interview with Ford (and other inkWELL participants)
  • Alex Krislov's 1980s interview with Ford
  • Quote from "Playing Scrabble with God", another
  • Ford's USENET posts 1994–5, in Google Groups
    Google Groups
    Google Groups is a service from Google Inc. that supports discussion groups, including many Usenet newsgroups, based on common interests. The service was started in 1995 as Deja News, and was transitioned to Google Groups after a February 2001 buyout....

     archive

About Ford

  • Teresa Nielsen Hayden
    Teresa Nielsen Hayden
    Teresa Nielsen Hayden is an American science fiction editor, fanzine writer, essayist, and teacher. She is a consulting editor for Tor Books. She has also worked for Federated Media Publishing, where in 2007 she revived the comment section for the blog Boing Boing...

    : Making Light: John M. Ford, 1957-2006. With links to online works by Ford, articles, weblog posts and memories about him etc.
  • Memory of Ford by his aunt Jane (Harley) Starner
  • Will Shetterly
    Will Shetterly
    Will Shetterly is an American writer of fantasy and science fiction best known for his novel Dogland . The novel is inspired by his childhood at the tourist attraction Dog Land owned by his parents...

    : An Introduction to John M. Ford
  • Neil Gaiman
    Neil Gaiman
    Neil Richard Gaiman born 10 November 1960)is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre and films. His notable works include the comic book series The Sandman and novels Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book...

    : Introduction to From the End of the Twentieth Century
  • Steve Jackson
    Steve Jackson (US)
    Steve Jackson is an American game designer. After working for many years at Metagaming Concepts designing such games as Ogre and The Fantasy Trip, he left to found Steve Jackson Games in the early 1980s...

    : Daily Illuminator article remembering Ford
  • Eric Burns
    Eric Burns
    Eric Alfred Burns is an American critic, writer, poet, columnist and Role Playing Game developer who lived in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire...

    , Websnark: Requiescat in Pace, John M. Ford with discussion of Ford's influence on Klingons in Star Trek
  • John Clute
    John Clute
    John Frederick Clute is a Canadian born author and critic who has lived in Britain since 1969. He has been described as "an integral part of science fiction's history."...

    : Obituary: John M. Ford, in The Independent
    The Independent
    The Independent is a British national morning newspaper published in London by Independent Print Limited, owned by Alexander Lebedev since 2010. It is nicknamed the Indy, while the Sunday edition, The Independent on Sunday, is the Sindy. Launched in 1986, it is one of the youngest UK national daily...

  • Andrew Brown: column on London memorial gathering for Ford, in The Guardian
    The Guardian
    The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

  • David Langford
    David Langford
    David Rowland Langford is a British author, editor and critic, largely active within the science fiction field. He publishes the science fiction fanzine and newsletter Ansible.-Personal background:...

    : John M Who? SFX December 2006
  • Peg Kerr
    Peg Kerr
    Peg Kerr is a US fantasy author.She was born in a suburb of Chicago and moved to Minnesota to attend St. Olaf College. She received an M.A. in English Literature in 1990, specializing in speculative fiction...

    : personal journal entry on the Minneapolis memorial gathering
  • The Society for the Preservation of Mike - a LiveJournal
    LiveJournal
    LiveJournal is a virtual community where Internet users can keep a blog, journal or diary. LiveJournal is also the name of the free and open source server software that was designed to run the LiveJournal virtual community....

     community
  • Photos tagged "JohnMFord" at Flickr.com
  • More links remembering John M. Ford